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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Time Out for Women - Spokane, WA 2010 - Mariama Kallon

First, I should tell you that I hadn't heard of this woman before, but after hearing her speak and tell her story, I would love to become her friend.  It was because of her and her story that this year's theme for Time Out for Women is Infinite Hope and the Hope Kits that were being put together.

She was raised in Sierra Leone during the civil war.  Did you ever watch "Blood Diamond"?  If not and you don't know about the war, you can read about it here on wikipedia.  

Her story was so powerful and personal.  She said that they would pray just to see the next day and when the day came they would pray to see the night.  When the night came they would take turns keeping watch in case the rebels came and they had to flee.  At some point they decided to go to where her parents lived, not knowing that it would be to say goodbye forever.  One day the rebels came and as her siblings and herself were fleeing, they shot and killed her parents.  She wanted to turn around, but her sister told her, "There is nothing we can do.  They are gone."  Eventually, the rebels caught up to them.  They were told by the rebels that they would rape them and then cut off their arms and legs.  When they had finished with all the girls, they lined them up against tree trunks and each women awaited her fate.  Unfortunately, her sister was among the first.  As she waited, the other women around her prayed to God to save them.  She thought to herself, "What God?  If he loves us, why would he have us suffer this?"  However, a feeling inside her prompted her to say a prayer.  She said, "God, I'm no better than any of these women, but I know that you are able to save me, the rest of the women and the two in front of me.  Please save us."  At that moment, they could hear the government soldiers coming and when the rebels heard them they took they started to run away.  Unfortunately, her sister was taken and it wasn't until Mariama was on her mission in 2001 that she learned her sister had died.

Soon after fleeing from the rebels, she stayed with friends who were LDS.  Through them, she was introduced to the gospel and became a member of the church.  She then decided that she wanted to go on a mission, but didn't know how to pay for it.  Through scripture study and prayer she knew it would be taken care of.  Then, the day she turned in her papers, she found out that she had two young cousins who were alone and she was their only known living relative.  She wasn't sure what to do and so she spoke with her bishop.  He said that his family would take care of them as long as they needed to.  She felt at peace with this, but after awhile it faded and she felt discouraged again.  While reading in D&C 31, she read verse 2, which says, "Behold you have had many afflictions because of your family nevertheless, I will bless you and your family, yea, your little ones..."  After reading this she knew that she would be able to carry out the Lord's work and her little ones would be taken care of.  To quote her,
"Heavenly Father is a God that DOES NOT lie.  He always keeps His promises."

I felt so encouraged by that.  He DOES NOT lie.  How important to remember that!

Mariama was soon called to the Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission.  Soon after serving, she was able to send for her cousins and they now live in Utah.  She also, spoke about her humanitarian kit that she received from the church.  She has kept it with her through everything.  It has become her symbol of hope in her life.  She showed it to us and explained that when the kits came so many people were going to get them and there weren't enough, so she shared with many ladies.  They had to ration everything out because they didn't know how long it would last.  Haha.  The only thing she wouldn't share was her toothbrush.  That was HERS. 

I was inspired by her and her trials.  I thought, if anything the message of her story is, no matter how hard you think your life is, it's not.  Mariama was a joy to listen to.  Many times she said, "God bless America" with a large smile on her face.  She joked about having to buy and wear knee-highs and how that was a struggle for her.  How she's still getting used to wearing shoes because she didn't get her first pair of shoes until she was 13 years old.  How she used to be skinny without doing anything.  She tells people, "You want to be skinny without the diet, go to Africa," with a large smile on her face.  How now that she lives here she's gotten chubby, "God bless America!"  How if you told her 13 years ago that she would be talking about Hope to a group of over 2,000 white women, she wouldn't have believed you.

I believe that if Mariama can get through all that she has, I can overcome my trials and come out with a smile on my face.


  1. This was what I was looking forward to during the event and she was amazing. What an example of unwavering faith.

  2. Hello,
    I attended the TIme Out for Women in Toronto 4 days ago and I too was touched by the message Mariama delivered. She had quoted a scripture I spent hours searching, thanks to your blog I founded. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You are if she can do it and with a smile in her face how can we say our lives are hard.

  3. Hello,
    I live in Utah. I recently watched "Delivered by Hope", the story of Mariama Kallon's amazing survival. Our Relief Society sisters put together over 700 hygiene kits a few weeks ago, and would love to contact Mariama about the possibility of her speaking to our sisters on a Stake level. I don't know how to contact her. Do you have any suggestions?
    Thanks lots,


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